Grande São PauloSão Paulo, a huge metropolitan area which is home to 20 million people - 11 million only in the core municipality, São Paulo.
- - The planned "American-style" city of Alphaville, the major international business destination outside the state capital
- - Containing Aldeia de Carapicuíba, a former indigenous settlement from the early Colonial period and a national heritage site
- - Famous for its large market of arts and antiques occupying all Downtown
- - A vibrant Japanese community, historical rural districts and ecoutourism at the Serra do Mar State Park
- - an English-built railroad village that is a national heritage site
- - A major Catholic pilgrimage site in the Tietê river
- - The state capital, Brazil's largest city, with social, cultural, and gastronomic diversity unmatched in the country
- - Home to one of the last Colonial historic centers in the state
- - The birthplace of the modern Brazilian labour movement, also offering nautical leisure and ecoutourism in the Riacho Grande district
- - Large Atlantic rainforest reserve accessible from various cities of the region
Other than São Paulo and Guarulhos (which contains the main international airport), few places in the Grande São Paulo area outside the main city are ever seen by foreigner visitors. While it is true that São Paulo overshadows every city in the metro area in terms of gastronomy and cultural options, one should not believe that there is nothing to see or to do outside the core municipality. Historical villages, splendid nature and authentic cultural manifestations are some rewards that await the intrepid visitor to São Paulo's sprawling suburbs.
Here are some of the main highways:
Rodovia dos Bandeirantes
Rodovia Ayrton Senna
By planeThere are two airports in the Greater São Paulo which have commercial flights:
- Aeroporto Internacional de Guarulhos, the main and busiest airport in Brazil, located at Guarulhos, 25 kilometers from the center of São Paulo, and is also the main airport serving the city.
- Aeroporto Internacional de Congonhas, is the second busiest airport in Brazil, located in the district of Campo Belo (São Paulo city), 8 km from the center of São Paulo.
And another international airport nearby:
- Aeroporto Internacional de Viracopos
While the core municipality may be easily explored using only using public transport and taxi, a car is handy to explore the metro area, since metropolitan buses are slow and metropolitan trains do not reach most points of interest.
The Grande São Paulo is connected by a single-tariff network of suburban trains, operated by CPTM . This network is fully integrated to the São Paulo subway system operated by Metrô; changing from one system to another is free on major stations, and costs a regular tariff on smaller stations. CPTM stations accept the São Paulo municipality smartcard (Bilhete Único), giving discounts when you take a bus within a 2-hour time period, and soon all stations will also accept the São Paulo metro area smartcard (Cartão BOM), with no special discount.
Despite their poor reputation, CPTM trains have improved dramatically on last decades, and their quality is nowadays similar or at least comparable to the Metrô, depending on the line. They can get extremely crowded on peak hours, but are generally a cheap and efficient way of moving around the city. Unfortunately, with exception of Line 9-Emerald and of the Expresso Turístico, CPTM trains are not that useful to the casual tourist, as they do not directly reach most points of interest outside the São Paulo municipality.
The most extensive public transportation system in the Grande São Paulo are the metropolitan buses, operated by EMTU . Unlike the CPTM, each EMTU bus line has its own tariff. EMTU buses reach every city of the metro area, but they are typically much slower than going by car. The bus lines that visitors are most likely to use are the Airport Bus Services that link the Congonhas and Guarulhos airports to several points in São Paulo. Yet, for some destinations, EMTU buses may be the only option of budget travellers who cannot afford to rent a car or take a taxi.
EMTU buses accept the metropolitan smartcard (Cartão BOM). It offers no discounts for the ordinary visitor, so its only advantage is saving you the hassle of reaching for coins.
For a few destinations, like Mogi das Cruzes and Guararema, an alternative to metropolitan buses are intercity buses operated by private companies. They can be found using the website BuscaOnibus . They are more expensive than metropolitan buses, have few departure points (like the Tietê and Barra Funda terminals) and limited availability, but they are also much faster and far more comfortable.
- São Paulo's Avenida Paulista, Historic Center, and endless glass-covered skyscrapers near the Pinheiros river
- The center of Embu das Artes, filled with shops of local handcrafts and antiques
- The center of Santana de Parnaíba, one of the few Colonial historic centers in the state
- The English-built village of Paranapiacaba
- Aldeia de Carapicuíba, a historical indigenous village, in Carapicuíba
- The Billings reservoir, mostly contained in São Bernardo do Campo and São Paulo, is a destination for nautical leisure and contains a few beaches and parks
Expresso Turístico CPTMThe Expresso Turístico is a train ride for tourists that is available on weekends. It departs from the historical Luz station, and is a two-way, direct ride in a comfortable train that goes to Jundiaí (outside Grande São Paulo), Mogi das Cruzes or Paranapiacaba. At the destination, you have the option of hiring a local tour, with price paid separately. Due to high demand, early reservation is necessary. Check the website for tour dates and information on reservation.